It’s that time of the season. Carloads of Valley visitors come up to Kaweah Country for some fun in the sun. For one group, a springtime outing on Saturday, April 19, nearly ended in tragedy.
An investigating CHP officer reported that a 1995 Nissan Maxima driven by Crystal Barajas, 19, of Visalia was westbound at 6:10 p.m. on Highway 198 with four passengers, ages 17 to 28. According to the CHP report, the vehicle was traveling at a speed estimated to be 80 mph as it approached the Horse Creek Bridge.
At this point, the driver failed to negotiate the curve and “struck the guardrail” on the north side of the shoulder.
This caused the vehicle to careen back across the eastbound lane and leave the roadway where it hit the embankment and came to a stop. According to the report, none of the five occupants was seriously injured.
According to one passerby who arrived after the solo-vehicle crash, it was uncertain who was driving and the scene looked like a fatality crash or at least an accident with multiple injuries. One passenger, Yvonne Bermudez, 28, also of Visalia, complained of back and chest pain and was transported to Kaweah Delta Medical Center.
The other occupants, including the driver, refused treatment at the scene. Because there were no witnesses to the accident, the driver was not cited.
“A note that the driver was at fault in the accident will be filed with the DMV,” stated Officer Al Harris, the public information officer at the CHP’s Visalia office.